Overall customer satisfaction with rental cars has returned to pre-recession levels with Enterprise ranking highest for a seventh consecutive year, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
Now in its 15th year, the study measures overall customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports by examining six factors: Costs and fees; pick-up process; rental car; return process; reservation process; and shuttle bus/van.
Enterprise ranks highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for a seventh consecutive year and performs particularly well in all six factors. Enterprise is followed in the rankings by National and Hertz, respectively.
"[Enterprise] really has stayed on top of what it is customer's need, and not just in any one area," says Stuart Greif, vice president of the travel practice at Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power and Associates. "They actually perform at the top of all six measures that we look at across the rental car customer's experience."
Enterprise is a "unique brand," Greif tells Marketing Daily. "Three of their four brands are among the top rankings and clearly that overall management approach seems to have some consistency in terms of performance," he adds.
Overall satisfaction averages 750 on a 1,000-point scale in 2010, improving from 733 in 2009 and 734 in 2008. Satisfaction with the reservation process; pick-up process; shuttle bus/van; and costs and fees have achieved three-year highs. Each of the rental car companies included in the study has improved in 2010 compared with 2009.
"I think in a positive way it shows how well the industry has navigated the downturn," Greif says. "They've quickly been able to get back up to those 2007 levels by focusing on staying on top of the customers, understand the decisions they were making and how it drove satisfaction down so they could quickly recover."
In addition to increased satisfaction with rental car companies in 2010, customer loyalty and advocacy have also improved from 2009. In 2010, one-third of business travelers and 28% of leisure travelers indicate they "definitely will" rent from the same brand again -- marking increases of 2% and 5%, respectively, from 2009.
Advocacy rates have increased by 3% among business travelers and 6% among leisure travelers from 2009. In 2010, 30% of travelers in both groups say they "definitely will" recommend their rental car company.
The 2010 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on more than 11,500 evaluations from business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location within the previous 30 days. The study was fielded between October 2009 and September 2010.